The University of California San Diego men's and women's swimming and diving teams traveled to Birmingham, Ala., on Sunday for the 2017 NCAA Division II Championships. The four-day meet will be held at the CrossPlex in Birmingham for the first time since 2013. The city of Birmingham and the University of Alabama in Huntsville serve as hosts. The swimming and diving will be part of another NCAA Division II National Championships Festival, featuring more than 1,000 student-athletes from five winter sports that will crown their team champions this week. This year's Triton contingent consists of 24 student-athletes: 13 women's swimmers, six men's swimmers, four women's divers and one men's diver, alongside five coaches. The divers will first go through a pre-qualification meet on Tuesday, March 7, with all five diving from both the one-meter and three-meter springboards beginning at 8 a.m. PT to try to qualify for the main draws. The championships get underway on Wednesday, March 8, and runs through Saturday, March 11.
Both the Triton men's and women's squads head into the NCAA Championships coming off of a ninth straight Pacific Collegiate Swimming and Diving Conference (PCSC) title. The Triton women, ranked fourth nationally in the NCAA Division II, finished 7-2 in dual meets this season with five straight wins. The third-ranked UCSD men completed the dual schedule a perfect 4-0.
All sessions of the NCAA Division II Championships can be watched live online, free of charge, at NCAA.com. Live results will also be available here for free, or on the Meet Mobile app for pay. All links can be found in the Schedule/Results section on the swimming and diving page. In addition, tune in to Championship Central at UCSDtritons.com for behind-the-scenes coverage and follow the Tritons on Twitter (@UCSDtritons, @UCSDSwimDive) for photos, results and more.
All-session and single-day tickets for the Division II Festival are on sale. General admission all-session passes for adults are $35. Single-day tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for youth, college students and seniors 65 and over. Tickets may be purchased online at www.ncaa.com/tickets. The championships include a diving pre-qualification meet on Tuesday, which is free and open to the public.
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS PREVIEW
The UC San Diego women will have 10 swimmers, all four divers and three relay specialists on hand for a total of 17 competitors. The contingent for the Triton men includes five swimmers, their lone diver, and one relay entrant. Twenty Tritons made the cut each of the last two years for the meets in Indianapolis, Ind. The UCSD women were third last March, their highest finish since another third-place effort in 2013. The Triton men wound up 17th in 2016.
UCSD (10) is tied for the fourth-largest women's swimming contingent, along with Delta State of Cleveland, Miss. Wingate (N.C.), the 2016 runner-up, has 12, with Lindenwood of St. Charles, Mo., sending 11, as is two-time defending champion Queens of Charlotte, N.C. Forty-eight squads will have 183 swimmers at the meet.
Queens ended Drury's 10-year reign atop Division II men's swimming and diving in 2015 and repeated in 2016. Drury has qualified 12 swimmers to Birmingham, with Queens (11) and Florida Southern (10) also in double figures. Lindenwood, the 2016 runner-up, qualified eight. A total of 157 men's swimmers will represent 34 different programs.
The 2017 NCAA Division II National Championships Festival will mark the 10th occurrence of the distinctive Division II event. Hosted by the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the City of Birmingham, this year's Winter Festival will take place March 7-11 at the Crossplex in Birmingham, Ala. National champions will be decided in men's and women's swimming and diving, men's and women's indoor track and field, and wrestling. Birmingham last hosted the Winter Festival at the Crossplex in 2013. Since the first festival debuted in 2004 in Orlando, Fla., they have been held on a rotational basis for the fall, winter and spring sports seasons, giving student-athletes a competitive opportunity to experience at least one during their intercollegiate athletics career.
The women's group is led by tri-captains Jaimie Bryan and fellow fourth-year senior Natalie Tang, who have earned their fourth invitations. Juniors Angie Phetbenjakul and Julia Toronczak (Santee/West Hills HS) are three-for-three. Junior Haley Hamza and sophomores Reagan Eickert and Lily Maxfield are two-time qualifiers, though Hamza was unable to attend last March due to injury. First-timers gaining spots are junior Alex Rodman (Coronado/Boston University/Coronado HS) and true freshmen Brooke Miles and Kaitlyn Ritchey.
Divers Brooke Abrantes (San Diego/Santana HS) and Patty Sullivan are making their second appearances, joined for the first time by fellow sophomore Delainey Carlin (Carlsbad/Carlsbad HS) and freshman Tiffany Wong on the women's side, and junior men's newcomer Trevor Jackson (Ramona/Ramona HS). All five divers will go through a pre-qualification meet (8 a.m. PT) in the one- and three-meter springboard competitions on Tuesday, March 7, vying to make the main draw.
The five Triton men's swimmers are seniors Michael Cohn (Solana Beach/Grossmont College), Gabriel Hernandez and Zach Yong, alongside junior Kevin Wylder and sophomore Garrett Tse. It marks a third berth in three years as a Triton for Cohn and Wylder. Hernandez, a first-year transfer out of Golden West College, has made his first and only NCAA field as UCSD's lone automatic entrant. Yong makes his return in his final go-around after trips as a freshman and sophomore before sitting the 2016 edition out. Tse is a first-timer.
The Triton men and women both are eligible to participate in all five relay events in Alabama. To that effect, four are in Alabama strictly as relay swimmers, in tri-captain Haley Murphy, fellow juniors Jayna Wittenbrink and Sarah Yao, and true freshman Edgar Chin. Murphy is a freestyler, Wittenbrink a butterflyer, Yao a sprinter, and Chin a breaststroker. Murphy and Wittenbrink are making return trips.
A total of 42 events will be contested in Birmingham, with 21 women's and 21 men's. That includes five relays and two diving events on each side. Women's races take place before the men's. Preliminaries begin each morning at 8:30 a.m. PT, with the evening finals sessions getting underway at 4 p.m. PT. The final session of the meet on Saturday, however, is at 3:30 p.m. PT. One diving event takes place each day, with trials at 12 p.m. PT.
The swimming starts on Wednesday with the 1000 free, 200 IM, 50 free and 200 medley relay. Thursday's slate is made up of the 200 free relay, 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free and 400 medley relay.
Friday will see the 500 free, followed by the 100 back, 100 breast, 200 fly and 800 free relay. The NCAA Championships will come to a close on Saturday, March 11, with the 1650 free, 100 free, 200 back, 200 breast and 400 free relay.
Jaimie Bryan, Michael Cohn, Gabriel Hernandez and Kevin Wylder are national championship contenders, with Cohn and Bryan having placed second and third in their best events, the 200 back and 200 breast, respectively, a year ago. Hernandez is a top-five seed in three events, the 200 IM (No. 2), 200 fly (No. 3) and 400 IM (No. 5). He broke meet and school records in all three at the PCSC Championships last month. Wylder has the fourth-fastest mark in the 50 free.
SCORING AND ALL-AMERICA
The standard NCAA 16-place scoring will be used this week. Individual: 20-17-16-15-14-13-12-11; 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. Relays: 40-34-32-30-28-26-24-22, etc. Those swimmers, either in individual or relay events, who place first through eighth as a result of appearances in championship finals, earn All-America recognition. A finish of ninth through 16th from consolation finals, is good for All-America honorable mention.
SENIOR DAY AT CANYONVIEW
Eight Tritons were recognized prior to the start of the Jan. 21 meet on Senior Day at the Canyonview Aquatic Center. Those eight are Jaimie Bryan, Michael Cohn, Sierra Gage, Gabriel Hernandez, Julian Jacobs, Mike Nguyen, Natalie Tang and Zach Yong. Bryan, Cohn, Hernandez, Tang and Yong await one final meet as Tritons this week at the NCAA Championships.
The final College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA)/TYR Top 25 Poll for the NCAA Division II was unveiled on Jan. 31. In it, the UCSD men moved up from No. 5 to No. 3, and the women as well from No. 6 to No. 4.
ALL-AMERICANS ON ROSTER
UCSD has 13 All-Americans on the 2016-17 roster, led by tri-captain Natalie Tang as a 10-timer, and fellow senior Jaimie Bryan at six. Also back are Michael Cohn (3), Reagan Eickert (1), Julian Jacobs (1), Lily Maxfield (1), Haley Murphy (1), Angie Phetbenjakul (3), Stephanie Sin (1), Julia Toronczak (3), Jayna Wittenbrink (1), Kevin Wylder (2) and Zach Yong (1). All but Jacobs and Sin will compete in Alabama.
Team captains for the new campaign were voted on at the conclusion of the 2015-16 season, with Natalie Tang reprising her role for a second year, and fellow seniors Jaimie Bryan, Julian Jacobs and Mike Nguyen, as well as junior Haley Murphy, all earning the distinction as first-time captains.
For the latest in Triton athletic gear, make sure to visit ucsdtritonsgear.com. Run by UCSD Athletics' online partner, Advanced-Online, the site provides an on-demand option for Triton athletic apparel and merchandise. Fans have access to over 600 products that can be processed and shipped within 24 hours.
FOR THE YOUNGER CROWD
Got some young Triton fans in your family? If they are in eighth grade or under, check out the Junior Triton Club. Membership includes a free t-shirt, admission to over 100 UCSD home athletic events, and much more!
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